As the Habs are in the midst of their longest
winning streak of the season, there’s lots to be excited about right now.
Unfortunately, it’s not all rosy for the team as although the team is winning
right now, there are some holes that could become problems in the near future.
With that in mind, here’s what fans should be most excited and most concerned
about heading down the stretch.
1) Getting healthier (sort of):
Though neither Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron are expected to play
tomorrow night in Toronto (the latter will make the trip at least), it won’t be
long before both are back in the lineup. Pending more injuries (hence the
sort of that will be referred to later), the team should be fully healthy by
this time next week.
2) Big guns step it up: At this time of the year, the players
getting the big bucks need to step up their game. Both Brian Gionta and
Scott Gomez are known for bringing their ‘A’ game at this time of the year.
In March/April combined, Gionta has a PPG average of 0.72 (vs 0.67 career
average for all months) while Gomez has a 0.89 PPG average compared to a career
mark of 0.81 PPG.
3) New guys: Though the trade deadline has passed, there’s still a
chance to get excited about some new players joining the organization. We
saw Hunter Bishop sign a 2 year deal yesterday while David Fischer is expected
to also receive a 2 year deal, though a decision has not yet been made on
whether he will sign within the next week or not. The Habs are continuing
to negotiate with several other UFA collegiate players, though one of their main
targets (Mike Testwuide) signed with the Flyers this morning.
1) Not all are fully healthy:
Remember that ‘sort of’ from earlier? We know Tomas Plekanec is not 100%
(a lower body injury) and that playing through this isn’t making the pain go
away. Though Andrei Markov has improved of late, there still are some
concerns with his health moving forward; the team has curbed his ice time in
recent games to help this. These are a pair of key cogs that will need to
be fully healthy come playoff time for this club to succeed.
2) Peaking too soon? A late February/early March winning streak is
not something new for the Habs; in fact, they’ve had one pretty much every year
since the lockout. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated to a whole lot of
playoff success (1 series win since 2004). Will history repeat itself once
more, or could this be the year where a run leads to something other than a
first round ouster?
3) Special teams: These haven’t exactly been so special for the
Habs in the month of March. The powerplay is just 4/26 (15.4%) compared to
a season rating of 23.5%. On the PK, it’s not quite as bad but a gap still
exists; the Habs are 23/28 (82.1%) in March compared to a 83.4% rating on the
season. When the playoffs come, Montreal has had a history of living or
dying with their special teams – if history repeats itself, the Habs may be
dying unless this gets turned around. (At least Cammalleri and Bergeron
should help the PP in the near future).